I come from Shailer Park, in Logan if you must know. Well that's where I was born and where I grew up. My cultural heritage on my mother's side is Irish, Scottish and completely caucasian really, but easily on that side of my family I am 5th generation Australian. My father's side is Samoan, my grandparents were both Samoan migrants, who migrated to New Zealand in the 50s and that's where my father was born and raised. I myself have never lived in New Zealand, though I've visited many times to get to know my cousins and aunties and uncles and extended family, whom I love as much as my white Australian cousins I grew up with here. It is assumed by many that I am a Kiwi, which used to bother me, but I've got passed it.
I want you to know that while there are African Americans fighting for change right now, making noise, protesting and likely getting all kinds of mixed news coverage - I want you to know that all social change has had to come with a hard fight. Through activism, through protesting, through story sharing, through the hearts of others who merely stand on the sideline and watch...unaffected for all kinds of reasons. If it has affected you in the slightest that's good, that's your humanity!!! Hang on to it, right now. Please hang onto it.
When the Suffragettes took to the streets in the early 1900s to fight for Women's Rights day after day, year after year - they only made social change possible by first fighting and making noise and asking for help and continuing to do so. The freedoms I enjoy as a woman now do not go unnoticed. I'm a proud feminist and I implore all men and women in my orbit to understand what that means. I'm not a man hater, it's not a bad word - it means I believe all men and women should have equal rights. Basic human rights. A lot of younger women don't realise the importance of the women's rights movements until they find themselves as mothers, with no real chance of keeping their careers, or if they do with great more difficulty than then male parents do. Fighting for maternity leave and equal pay, it's all still ongoing today. It's changing with greater understanding and beautiful men taking on more domestic roles. It's incredible, but it didn't happen without ongoing action. Action that continues today! And women asking for more, constantly! Complacency will see this all reversed.
To be complacent and to ride only on the current day freedoms that we all enjoy, without acknowledging how we came to enjoy them - without paying respect to those that fought - to those whose lives had to be lost for momentum to be gained - and without acknowledging that there is so far to go WE WILL see these freedoms taken away. Reversed. We must learn the lessons of history to avoid making these same mistakes again. It is imperative. If not now, then when?
Which brings me to the most talked about topic right now, because of video footage that was so utterly heartbreaking and hard to fathom. The death of another African American at the hands of a white American Police Officer. So many people are shocked that Racism even still exists as a 'problem' because it hasn't directly affected them. So many Australian's are shocked that it's happening but grateful to live here in Australia, where many believe it doesn't happen - because they don't see it. Not on their newsfeed, not in their communities, not on their radar. It's time to widen your radar peeps, please widen your radars.
Not unlike stories of Domestic Violence, do many of us have our eyes opened to the terror that women of all colours and ethnicities experience horrendous acts of violence. When we see a photo of a white women that we could have know, do we feel the intense need to help, to fight, to be an advocate. This is the same thing, this is about life, basic human rights!
I know there's many people burying their heads right now, it's a lot to emotionally take on, its heavy, it hurts, it's triggering - feeling as though it doesn't require anything from you because you don't commit racist acts is unfortunately adding to the problem though.
This affects us all and hiding behind the belief or excuse that it doesn't, might leave you feeling more comfortable - BUT I ask that you get uncomfortable for just an hour or even 30 minutes a week. Learn more about the injustices of the indigenous people of our country here in Australia. If you've been effected emotionally by the video footage you see emerging from the states, then question why you aren't as moved to learn that of 424 indigenous deaths in custody in this country since 1991, 400 did not see justice served. It's shocking. And no, focusing on these deaths and these black lives is in no way taking away from the importance of all lives - it's about understanding that minority groups here in the Western World - of which we are included as Australians - there are significant challenges faced that many of us in privileged places will likely never experience. We all experience trauma and we all experience privilege. It's important to understand what your privilege is and how you can best be grateful for it - and for me - how I can pay it forward. As a basic human ability.
For basic human rights!
You might not think yourself a political person, but if you live and operate in this time, in this country, you are living within the boundaries that politics set and hold us all within. Get informed if you're wanting to learn more about how you can create positive social change, how you can help all humans to basic human rights. Here in Australia is a great place to start.
I am committed to growing and learning and being more, when you follow my art practice that's what you're ultimately witnessing. My paintings are diary entries. My plant works are my colour therapy, my escape, my expression for all that is beautiful in the world. Nature. Love. Colour appreciation.
My portraits come from something so much more personal, and it takes a lot from me emotionally to paint them - hence I don't sustainably do them often enough. Every woman of colour I paint is a human, a smart intelligent, breathing and beautiful human. I aim to paint them and myself without objectifying them, without the male gaze, without the element of seeming 'exotic' and without 'othering' - it is most important that I paint them with strength and power and heart. With humanity. That is what I want you to see when you look at all other humans, it's a challenge I know. But get uncomfortable, question your bias, question the dialogue of fear or hate that sometimes rears its ugly head in all of our brains. No one is immune to it. But we have to question ourselves sometimes, for the sake of unity and humanity.
There is so much literature out there to be consumed, to help you understand the experiences of any person that is not like you, that has less privilege, that believes things that are different to you. Please take 30 minutes of your week to get informed. Be curious, learn, grow. I'll continue to share and spotlight people and resources that have helped me consume greater understanding.
Here's just one great quote that best sums up why it's so important to drop the ego, to get uncomfortable and to be the best human you can be. I'd love you to share your favourite quotes here in the comments if you made it this far. Art after all helps us unite ❤️
“No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from beings so. Attempting to be more human, individually, leads to having more, egotistical, a form of dehumanization.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Deaths in Custody:
The Polynesian Panthers:
Black Panther's Documentary Part 1
Black Panther's Documentary Part 2
Black Panther's Documentary Part 3
BLACK SATURDAY in Samoa